Recently in Wrestling Category

2015 Coaches Caravan Day VI - Lehigh Valley & Wilkes-Barre

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

Download Your PSU Caravan Photo Booth Pictures Here

Day IV Recap - Philadelphia & Langhorne | Day V Recap - New York & New Jersey

Photo Gallery - Lehigh Valley | Photo Gallery - Wilks-Barre

WILKES-BARRE, Pa. - After more than 1,300 miles on the road, the 2015 Penn State Coaches Caravan drew to a close on Thursday evening inside Wilkes-Barre's F.M. Kirby Center before a crowd of 300 enthusiastic Penn State fans.

More than 2,500 fans attended the 12 stops during the month of May. The Caravan spanned across eight locations in Pennsylvania, in addition to Baltimore, Washington, D.C., New York City and New Jersey. In all, five different head coaches and eight football assistant coaches joined head coach James Franklin during at least one stop since the Coaches Caravan began on May 3 in Harrisburg.

"The most important thing about the Caravan, in my opinion, is to say thank you to everyone," Franklin said. "Going out into these communities around the state, in New York, New Jersey, Maryland and D.C., and taking time to thank you and let you know how much we truly appreciate the support, the commitment and the passion you have for our great University and for our athletic programs is unbelievable."

The final two stops of the tour visited two areas full of Penn State followers. Thursday's lunch stop took place in front of nearly 250 fans in the Lehigh Valley (Breinigsville) before the final evening reception inside the historic F.M. Kirby Center, which was built in 1938 downtown Wilkes-Barre.

The coaching lineup for day six of the Coaches Caravan featured Franklin, Russ Rose and Cael Sanderson. A visit to a restaurant appropriately named "Franklin's" in Wilkes-Barre, an appearance from the Nittany Lion on the bus and more stand-up comedy from Sanderson headlined the final day's festivities on the road.

The Wilkes-Barre stop marked the final Caravan event for Roger Williams, executive director of the Penn State Alumni Association, who is set to retire on June 30. Williams, who as served as executive director for 12 years, has been an integral part of the Coaches Caravan programs since its inception in the spring of 2012. Williams has been a superb lead off man for all 59 Caravan stops during the last four years and his enthusiastic "We Are" chants and incredible passion will be missed. Rose asked the fans in Wilkes-Barre to give Williams a standing ovation for his final stop on the Caravan.

A big thank you goes out to the more than 2,500 loyal Penn State fans and alums that made the Coaches Caravan a resounding success for the fourth-straight spring. Like each of coaches said at one point or another during the two weeks on the road, the support Penn State Athletics received is truly unrivaled, and it's because of people like those who spent time attending stops on the Caravan.

And again, a big tip of the cap goes out to Fullington Trailways ace driver Gottfried Fodor, who did a superb job behind the wheel of the Caravan bus for the fourth-straight year. Since the inception of the Caravan in 2012, Fodor has wheeled the coaches and staff members across 6,937 miles through eight states and the District of Columbia.

We look forward to seeing the fans back on the road in 2016. Take a look through some photo highlights from the final two stops on Thursday.

Stop No. 11 - Lehigh Valley (Holiday Inn Allentown - I-78)
caravan2015_LV_3.jpgcaravan2015_LV_1.jpgVideo: Lehigh Valley Press Conference

Stop No. 12 - Wilkes-Barre (F.M. Kirby Center)
caravan2015_WB_1.jpgcaravan2015_WB_2.jpgcaravan2015_WB_3.jpgVideo: Wilkes-Barre Press Conference

2015 Coaches Caravan Miles Traveled:
Day I - 129 miles

Day II - 142 miles
Day III - 444 miles
Day IV - 220 miles
Day V - 107 miles
Day VI - 270 miles

Caravan Total - 1,312 miles


Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

2015 Coaches Caravan Day V - New York City & New Jersey

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

Coaches Caravan Registration | Download Your PSU Caravan Photo Booth Pictures Here

Photo Gallery - New York City | Photo Gallery - New Jersey

Day IV Recap (Philadelphia & Langhorne) - Photos, Video & More

NEW YORK - The Coaches Caravan paid its annual visits to New York City and New Jersey on day two of the second leg on Wednesday.

After two great events in the Philadelphia area, the bus traveled north to Midtown Manhattan for a stop inside the Edison Ballroom. Take a look through highlights from the first two stops of the six-event second week of the Coaches Caravan.

Stop No. 9 - New York City (Edison Ballroom)
For the second time in three years on the Caravan, Edison Ballroom on 47th Street in Midtown played host to the Coaches Caravan stop in New York. It's always special when the Nittany Lion contingent pays a visit to the Big Apple, and with a superb lineup of coaches again on Wednesday - Patrick Chambers, James Franklin, Russ Rose and Cael Sanderson - Wednesday's lunch was terrific.

On the heels of the thrilling Pinstripe Bowl victory in December, the folks in the room gave a rousing cheer when Director of Athletics Sandy Barbour opened the speeches by talking about the special night in Yankee Stadium.

With more than 32,000 alums in the metro area, it's shaping up to be a big year ahead for Penn State Athletics and New York City. Chambers and the Nittany Lion basketball team are slated to meet Michigan in a unique doubleheader at Madison Square Garden. On January 30, 2016, the Nittany Lions will take on the Wolverines on the hardwood and ice.

"We love coming to New York, and we hope everyone in this room makes MSG like Yankee Stadium was during the Pinstripe Bowl," Chambers said.

In addition to the hoops and hockey games in MSG, the 2016 NCAA Wrestling Championships are set to take place in The Garden from May 17-19. It will mark the first time that the championships will take place in Manhattan, and Sanderson is looking forward to a strong Penn State contingent cheering on the Blue and White.

"That's something we are really excited about. When we saw that, we were very excited about that," Sanderson said. "We are going to have a solid team, so we are excited to come back."

New York is a place Coach Rose always loves visiting. It's a place he has spent a great deal of time at, and on Wednesday he shared a great tale of a trip to Manhattan with legendary head coach Joe Paterno. Rose said the last time he was in town for a big sporting event was when the Nittany Lion basketball team captured the 2009 NIT title. He traveled to the game in Manhattan with Coach Paterno and shared about the time the two walked the streets of Midtown on the way to the game, with Coach Paterno stopping for a hot dog while mingling with folks on the streets of NYC.

Much of Wednesday's program felt like a comedy act, especially from Sanderson, whose one-liners had the room roaring during his 12-minute speech. Chambers also took some time to share a few things he has learned on the bus during the trip. The list included that he has learned what wrestlers wear for matches are not known as "tights", rather they are called singlets and that he was nine when Coach Rose began his tenure at Penn State in 1979.

The quartet of coaches is a tremendous group of ambassadors for the athletic program, and they are all individuals who love to have fun. Their personalities feed off of one another, and the New York crowd was treated to an event filled with laughter and insight as to why Penn State is in great hands with the current coaching lineup.

VIDEO: New York City Press Conference

Stop No. 10 - New Jersey (Hilton Hotel Parsippany)
For the first time in the Caravan's four-year history, an evening reception was held in New Jersey on Wednesday. In previous years, the Caravan visited the Garden State and the host of Penn State alums during lunch stops.

Much like New York, Coach Chambers triggered the crowd with an opening speech that had the room roaring with approval. He called the Nittany Lion up on to the stage to help lead a series of cheers to get the crowd engaged and then had the Lion knock out some one-armed pushups.

Wednesday night marked the final stop for Chambers during his stint on the Caravan this year. The leader of Nittany Lion Basketball has been part of the events since the idea began in 2012. He is a tremendous speaker in a public setting, and Chambers is a superbly passionate individual about his role as an ambassador and leader for not only men's basketball, but Penn State in general.

caravanNJ_2015_1.jpg No one has more respect for what he has accomplished at Penn State than Coach Rose. He has led the Nittany Lions to seven national titles, including six of the last eight years. A big piece to the volleyball team's success has been the talent Rose has recruited out of New Jersey, including Ridgewood, New Jersey, native and All-American Ariel Scott.

"New Jersey has been very good to the Penn State volleyball team during the time I have been in Happy Valley," said Rose.

Sanderson followed Rose with another stand-up act with jokes about everyone on stage. The rooms tend to laugh from start to finish during Sanderson's speeches, and he rarely refers to his notes. As fierce of a competitor as college sports has ever seen, Sanderson is equally as personable when he gets in front of a crowd. That's in large part due to his love for the fan base.

"The thing that inspires me is when we get out on the road and you hear the passion for the University and the programs we coach," Sanderson said. "That's what makes Penn State a special place. You just see the support everywhere you go."

Speaking of passion, Franklin wrapped up the evening's speakers with a speech that left everyone in the room excited for the seasons ahead. The foundation is in place for the football program Franklin envisioned when he took the job 16 months ago.

He's said from stop one on the Caravan, but it rings true every time he addresses a crowd, "I'm more excited about the future for Penn State Football today than I was when I got the job. Why is that? Because I believe in Penn State."

The 2015 Coaches Caravan will conclude on Thursday with stops in the Lehigh Valley and Wilkes-Barre.

Coaches Caravan Miles Traveled:
Day 1 - 129 miles

Day II - 142 miles
Day III - 444 miles
Day IV - 220 miles
Day V - 107 miles

Caravan Total - 1,042 miles


Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

2015 Coaches Caravan Day IV - Philadelphia & Langhorne

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

Coaches Caravan Registration | Download Your PSU Caravan Photo Booth Pictures Here

Photo Gallery - Philadelphia | Photo Gallery - Langhorne

PHILADELPHIA - Leg two of the 2015 Coaches Caravan kicked off on Tuesday with a pair of stops before two great crowds in the Philadelphia area.

The Penn State Fullington Trailways rolled out of the Bryce Jordan Center parking lot just after 6:45 a.m. en route to downtown Philadelphia for stop No. 7 of the Caravan inside the Hyatt at the Bellevue. Take a look through highlights from the first two stops of the six-event second week of the Coaches Caravan.

Stop No. 7 - Philadelphia (Hyatt at the Bellevue)
Week two of the Coaches Caravan is set to be a treat for the fans in attendance. The coaching lineup is a who's who of leaders in Happy Valley, featuring Patrick Chambers (men's basketball), James Franklin (football), Russ Rose (women's volleyball) and Cael Sanderson (wrestling). It's rare to have four of the highest profile head coaches sitting in the same room and speaking to a crowd of passionate Penn Staters.

Nearly 100,000 Penn State alums call the Philadelphia area home, and for Chambers and Franklin the stops in Philly are a homecoming. Hailing from Newtown Square, Chambers is always fired up to spend time talking in front of his hometown crowd.

"It's a lot of fun to have a bunch of Philly guys with us here today," Director of Athletics Sandy Barbour said during the program's introduction.

Chambers kicked off the coach speeches on Tuesday with some humor.

"They chose me because I have the most hair of all the coaches," Chambers joked.

The room roared as he continued to poke fun at the other coaches on stage. Chambers has a great deal of positivity to convey about the direction of the Nittany Lion basketball program. From the team's finish at the Big Ten Tournament to the program's incoming recruiting class that ranks as the program's all-time best, the men's hoops program is on its way to a place Chambers is excited about.

"We are taking the right steps," Chambers said. "We are headed in the right direction. We are getting there. It is a process."

caravan2015_philly_1.jpgRose followed Chambers with remarks about a University he has called home for the past 36 years. The women's volleyball program's accolades speak for themselves, as do Rose's individual accomplishments. But what makes Rose so unique is that he does not care about the individual awards and honors, he cares more about the well being of Penn State as a whole.

"When Penn State wins a championship in any of our sports, we all win," Rose said. "It's not about individuals or individual teams. When one team wins, we all win."

Continuing with that theme, Sanderson has set the benchmark for success in college athletics, but never draws attention to individual accomplishments. The process of reaching the peak of success is all about approach to Coach Sanderson.

"Whatever you tell your student-athletes, you tell yourself the same thing," Sanderson. "These guys (up here on stage) live what they preach."

Franklin is a living example of what Sanderson talked about. He has spent the first 16 months on campus laying the foundation of the Penn State football program. Franklin believes in the process, and he is embracing the work that goes into being a successful program on the field and in the classroom.

"One of things we love so much about Penn State is the standard (everyone sets)," Franklin said as he looked at his fellow coaches on stage.

All four coaches on the Caravan are tremendous ambassadors for the University, largely because of their passion for the jobs they do. They all love the school and know what it means to be a Penn Stater long after the time when individuals receive their diplomas, much like the crowd in the room.

"It's part of a family and a relationship that carries on for much longer than the four years (people are on campus). That's why it is so special," said Sanderson.

VIDEO: Philadelphia Press Conference

Stop No. 8 - Langhorne (Sheraton Bucks County Hotel)
Following lunch on Broad Street in Center City, the Caravan bus moved to Langhorne for the week's first evening reception. Just four miles from the childhood home of Coach Franklin, a crowd of more than 250 loyal fans attended the program inside the Sheraton Bucks County Hotel.

Several friends and family members of Coach Franklin, including his sister Debbie, spent the evening with the Coaches Caravan in Langhorne. It was a special day all around for Franklin. Visitor after visitor said hello to the leader of the Nittany Lions during both stops throughout a day in his hometown. At the lunch stop, Franklin's second grade school teacher waited in the photo booth line before surprising Franklin.

"It's really cool to be back here today," Franklin said. "This has been a big part of my life, and it's really cool to be back.

The Langhorne crowd was among the best thus far during the two weeks of the Caravan. The group was engaged and lively from start to finish during the program. Barbour opened the evening by explaining to the room how important the "why" is for the growth and development of the department.

"It all begins with the why," Barbour said. "Our purpose at Penn State is about delivering a world class student-athlete experience for more than 800 student-athletes.

You can't begin to think of four better representatives of Penn State's "why" than Chambers, Rose, Sanderson and Franklin.

Chambers has a way of making everyone in the room feeling so positive about Penn State. He led a rousing chant at the beginning of his speech that brought the room to a roar.

He yelled, "it's a great day to be a...." before the fans in the audience finished the remark, "to be a Nittany Lion." Chambers brings so much enthusiasm to a room that is infectious. And when it happens in Philly, his hometown fans love it.

Rose followed Chambers with a speech on why Penn State is truly unique as an athletic department. Every team matters to him. Why? It's because Penn State means everything to Rose, and that's why he has been so prideful as a leader for 36 years.

"I want to thank you for all of the things you do and the dreams and passion you bring to the University," Rose told the crowd.

Sanderson had the crowd in stiches with his one-liners and humor on Tuesday evening, but like the other coaches on stage, his message and passion are clear.

"Penn State is unique, and it's unique because of people like you," said Sanderson.

The Caravan heads to New York City and New Jersey on Wednesday.


VIDEO: Langhorne Press Conference Video

Coaches Caravan Miles Traveled:
Day 1 - 129 miles

Day II - 142 miles
Day III - 444 miles
Day IV - 220 miles

Caravan Total - 935 miles


Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

2015 NCAA Session VI Roundup: Matt Brown Wins National Title

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

Session I Roundup - Video & Feature | Session II Roundup - Video & Feature
Session III Roundup - Video & Feature | Session IV Roundup - Video & Feature
Session IV Roundup - Video & Feature

ST. LOUIS - Senior Matt Brown etched his place into Penn State wrestling lore with a dramatic 5-4 victory in the 2015 NCAA title match at 174 pounds on Saturday night inside the Scottrade Center.

A model student-athlete in every sense of the word, Brown became Penn State's 23rd national champion (29 overall titles) in unique fashion on a locked hands technical point at the buzzer in the third period. Nevertheless, Brown earned the victory and will forever be a member of an elite club in wrestling history.

"When you're a little kid you dream of hitting that grand slam in the ninth inning, and sometimes it's a bunt," Brown said. "Still get the job done."

Brown will finish a stellar Penn State career with a 118-16 overall record. A three-time All-American, the Utah native notched his third-straight finish in the top five at the national tournament this season. A tireless worker on and off the mat, Brown is a humble national champion for the Penn State Blue and White.

"Pretty cool. I didn't expect the match to end like that. But that's how the ball bounces and it landed my way this time," said Brown.

As a team, the Nittany Lions' run of consecutive national titles will come to a close at four, but Penn State entered the national tournament in 2015 with a very young team. That being said, the Nittany Lions totaled five All-Americans, including three wrestlers who finished in the top five at their respective weight classes. With Brown's national championship, the Nittany Lions finished with 26 total victories and 67.5 points at the 2015 national tournament.

Final Team Standings
1. Ohio State - 102.0
2. Iowa - 84.0
3. Edinboro - 75.5
4. Missouri - 73.5
5. Cornell - 71.5
6. Penn State - 67.5

Brown_NCAA Title.jpgIt's rare to come across a student-athlete more deserving of success than Brown. One of the most polite individuals you will ever meet off the mat, Brown is a tenacious wrestler with a never-ending motor in the circle. His march through the 174-pound draw featured a pair of majors and three-straight victories that were decided by one point.

Battling eighth-seeded Tyler Wilps (Pittsburgh) in the national title match, Brown trailed 1-0 after two periods before a frenetic third. The Nittany Lion senior escaped to start the third to make it a 1-1 match. Brown added a takedown for a 3-1 lead. Wilps added an escape and then scored a takedown of his own to claim a 4-3 lead in the final 20 seconds. But Brown was not done.

10920500.jpegAwarded a stalling point in the final four seconds, Brown and Wilps finished the match off with the score tied at 4-4. Looking like a bout destined for sudden victory, the officials reviewed and awarded Brown a point for a Wilps locked hands violation, thus giving Brown his first national championship.

"I was disappointed I gave up the late takedown, but felt confident I could get away still and tie up the match," said Brown. "Had a tough ride, kind of just trying to get the time off the clock. Once the challenge started I felt comfortable because I knew he locked hands, and I was trying to point that out."

Brown's approach to the Penn State program has been team-first every second he has been in Happy Valley. He has the utmost respect from his fellow teammates and coaching staff.

"I just know how important it has been for Matt to be a national champion," head coach Cael Sanderson said. "He's been talking about being a national champion since we first started recruiting him many years ago. He's done everything we've asked him to do, the little things...I'm very happy for him. I'm very proud of him. He did a great job. And Matt Brown is a national champion."

Simply put, no one has deserved the opportunity to have his hand raised on the sport's ultimate stage than Brown. He is a first-class individual with an infectious personality, who has been truly grateful for the opportunity to be a student-athlete.

"He's a kid who has done everything we have asked," head assistant coach Casey Cunningham said. "He's one of the hardest workers we've ever had. He's a 4.0 (GPA) student...He's the type of kid you never worry about outside the room. You know he is doing the right things in leading the young guys. He's just been a pleasure to work with."

As Coach Sanderson succinctly put it, Matt Brown is a national champion for Penn State. And he will wear the crown with nothing but dignity and class.

The 2015 NCAA Championships are now complete. And attention has already turned to next season's national tournament, which will take place inside Madison Square Garden from March 15-17. Mark your calendars. The program will celebrate Brown's achievement, but the team has an eye on what lies ahead in the future.

Breaking Down the Nittany Lions

125: #11 Jordan Conaway (27-9) - 4-3 - Eighth Place (All-American)

133: #7 Jimmy Gulibon (26-9) - 4-2 - Fifth Place (All-American)

149: #12 Zack Beitz (19-11) - 1-2 - Tournament Complete

174: #2 Matt Brown (29-3) - 5-0 - NATIONAL CHAMPION (All-American)

184: #14 Matt McCutcheon (26-14) - 2-2 - Tournament Complete

197: #2 Morgan McIntosh (32-3) - 6-1 - Third Place (All-American)

285: #8 Jimmy Lawson (18-6) - 3-3 - Sixth Place (All-American)

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

2015 NCAA Session V Roundup: McIntosh Takes Third

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

Session I Roundup - Video & Feature | Session II Roundup - Video & Feature
Session III Roundup - Video & Feature | Session IV Roundup - Video & Feature

ST. LOUIS - By no means was the road to the top line of the consolation bracket and easy one for Morgan McIntosh on Saturday morning, but the junior knocked off a pair of top seeds on Saturday to cap off a strong run through the back draw en route to finishing third at 197 pounds during the medal round of the NCAA Championships.

McIntosh downed top-seeded J'Den Cox (Missouri) in the consolation semifinals before defeating fifth-seeded Scott Schiller (Minnesota) in the third-place match. Sophomore Jimmy Gulibon also won his final match of the tournament to finish in fifth spot at 133 pounds.

In addition to McIntosh and Gulibon, Jordan Conaway (125) and Jimmy Lawson (285) wrapped up competition in the medal round on Saturday morning. Conwaway finished eighth and Lawson was sixth. All five Lions in action on Saturday will head home as All-Americans for 2015.

While the Nittany Lions' run of consecutive national titles will end at four, Penn State entered the national tournament in 2015 with a young team. That being said, the Nittany Lions had five All-Americans, including three wrestlers who finished in the top five at their respective weight classes. With McIntosh's two wins and one from Gulibon, Penn State finished the fifth session with 63.5 total points in the team race. The Nittany Lions are sixth in the standings.

Session V Team Standings (Main Draw/Consolation)
1. Ohio State - 94.0 (3 Finalists)
2. Iowa - 84.0. (1 Finalist)
3. Edinboro - 75.5 (2 Finalists)
4. Missouri - 69.5 (1 Finalist)
5. Cornell - 67.5 (2 Finalists)
6. Penn State - 63.5 (1 Finalist)

10916839.jpegEntering the week as the Big Ten champion and second overall seed, McIntosh looked to be a prime candidate to wrestle in the national final at 197 pounds. But a narrow 3-2 setback in the quarterfinals sent the California native to the consolation draw.

McIntosh knew the Nittany Lions were counting on him to rebound after the loss, and he did so with a vengeance. Between Friday evening and Saturday morning, McIntosh rattled off four-straight victories in the back draw on his way to third. The list included three-straight over top six seeds in the 197-pound draw.

"It hurts to take a loss like that and know you can't get on the top of the podium this year, but I've learned over the years to put it in the past and not dwell on it," said McIntosh. "You can't think about what could have been or what you could have done. You can take away a lesson to learn from it, but you can't dwell on it and have negative thoughts in your head because that's just going to bring you down when you need to step up in wrestlebacks."

His first bout on Saturday featured a showdown with the No. 1 wrestler at 197. Down 1-0 after the first period against No. 1 Cox, McIntosh roared to an escape and takedown in the third period for a 3-1 win in the consolation semifinals. Then, he wasted little time grabbing a lead in the third-place match against Schiller. McIntosh used a pair of first-period takedowns for 4-1 edge. He added two reversals and a third takedown for a 12-7 victory to claim third.

The junior finished a stellar season with a 32-3 overall record and a Big Ten title. McIntosh will have 365 days to wait, but he is primed to make a run in next year's national tournament.

Gulibon also showed a great deal of grit during the week in St. Louis. Like everyone in the lineup, the 133-pound sophomore had aspirations of being on the stage in the finals on Saturday night. He fell just short in Friday's semifinals in a 7-5 decision against Iowa's Cory Clark. Gulibon dropped his first match on Saturday, but he battled back with a 9-5 win over Mason Beckman from Lehigh.

"(In a way), I'm glad I got fifth because it will serve as great motivation during the offseason," Gulibon said. "I need to work on finishing shots in the offseason, but everyone wrestled well (this week), and I'm looking forward to next year."

Lawson finished sixth after coming up short in a 6-0 decision against Iowa's Bobby Telford, but will finish as an All-American. Conaway came home with an eighth place finish at 125 pounds after yielding a last-second takedown to Oklahoma State's Eddie Klimara in the seventh-place match. Nonetheless, the junior finished 2015 as an All-American.

All eyes now shift towards the national finals. Matt Brown will wrestle on the sport's grandest stage in the 174-pound final on Saturday at 8 p.m. ET (ESPN). The championship finals will begin at 149 pounds, so Brown and Tyler Wilps of Pitt will wrestle in the fourth match on the lineup. Brown beat Wilps by a score of 6-5 at the Southern Scuffle in January.

"He is one of my best friends on the team, and he has been awesome," McIntosh said. "I'm so happy for him. He deserves this more than anyone. He's been a great partner (in the wrestling room), a great mentor and a great friend. I respect him a ton. I'm so excited to watch him."

The Nittany Lion senior is Penn State's 16th finalist since 2010. And by virtue of Brown competing in the final, it marks the sixth-straight year that a Nittany Lion is a national finalist.

Breaking Down the Nittany Lions

125: #11 Jordan Conaway (27-9) - 4-3 - Eighth Place (All-American)

133: #7 Jimmy Gulibon (26-9) - 4-2 - Fifth Place (All-American)

149: #12 Zack Beitz (19-11) - 1-2 - Tournament Complete

174: #2 Matt Brown (28-3) - 4-0 - National Final (All-American)
Up Next: Championship Round vs. No. 8 Tyler Wilps (Pitt)

184: #14 Matt McCutcheon (26-14) - 2-2 - Tournament Complete

197: #2 Morgan McIntosh (32-3) - 6-1 - Third Place (All-American)

285: #8 Jimmy Lawson (18-6) - 3-3 - Sixth Place (All-American)

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

2015 NCAA Session IV Roundup: Brown Headed to NCAA Final

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

Session I Roundup - Video & Feature | Session II Roundup - Video & Feature
Session III Roundup - Video & Feature

ST. LOUIS - Following a 1-0 victory in the national semifinals on Friday evening, senior Matt Brown is headed to the 174-pound national title match at the NCAA Championships.

The undoubted team leader for Nittany Lion wrestling will compete in the tournament final for the second time in three seasons on Saturday inside the Scottrade Center. Brown's semifinal victory headlined a day where five Penn State wrestlers earned All-America honors in St. Louis.

"It was a tough semifinal match against Mike Evans of Iowa," Brown said. "He's a tough competitor. I was fortunate to come out with the W. It was a close match."

In addition to Brown, Jordan Conaway (125), Jimmy Gulibon (133), Morgan McIntosh (197) and Jimmy Lawson (285) are All-Americans for 2015 and remain alive in the consolation bracket.

In all, Penn State will have five wrestlers in action on Saturday, with one in the finals (Brown), three in the consolation semifinals (Gulibon, McIntosh and Lawson) and one in a seventh place bout (Jordan Conaway). Fueled by Brown's win in the semifinals, Penn State finished the fourth session of the tournament with 58.0 total points in the team race. The Nittany Lions are sixth in the standings.

Session IV Team Standings (Main Draw/Consolation)
1. Ohio State - 86.5 (3 Finalists/2 Consolation)
2. Iowa - 73. (1 Finalist/5 Consolation)
3. Cornell - 66.5 (2 Finalists/2 Consolation)
4. Edinboro - 64.5 (2 Finalists/2 Consolation)
5. Missouri - 60.0 (1 Finalist/4 Consolation)
6. Penn State - 58.0 (1 Finalist/4 Consolation)

10915562.jpegWrestling for the third time since Feb. 8, Brown and Mike Evans are no strangers to one another. And like the first two meetings between the two, Friday's semifinal tilt was a chess match between two guys who are tough to score against. Coming into the match, neither wrestler had given up a takedown during the tournament. And that did not change after seven minutes of action in the semifinals.

After a scoreless first period, Brown started in the down position to start the second. He popped free for an escape point and a 1-0 lead after two frames. However, rather than start in the down position to begin the third period like he did in the previous two meetings this season, Evans chose the neutral position in the third. Down 1-0, the Iowa senior went on the attack with shot attempt after shot attempt in the latter stages of the match, but Brown was not going to be denied an opportunity to wrestle on the stage Saturday night.

"Just keep wrestling tough. That was one thing. I wanted to go in and wrestle through every position, and I was able to do that," Brown said. "I wasn't able to get the takedown like I wanted. But in the Big Ten finals, I gave up some scrambles. That was something I was trying to work on consciously."

Saturday evening will be Brown's second appearance on the sport's biggest stage. The Utah native dropped a 2-1 overtime decision to No. 1 Chris Perry (Oklahoma State) in the 174-pound final in 2013. Brown has that experience in the back of his mind, and he has learned from it.

"Two years ago was the first time I was here at the NCAA Tournament," said Brown. "I wasn't complacent at all, but I was ecstatic just to be in the finals and I wrestled a really tough match and ended up dropping in overtime in a loss. But I didn't celebrate after my quarters becoming an All-American, because that's not my goal. I'll have a chance to achieve that tomorrow."

Gulibon's semifinal match against Iowa's Cory Clark featured a frenetic pace from start to finish. After a scoreless first, Gulibon got on the board with a reversal early in the second period. Clark scored an escape point and then secured a takedown for a 3-2 lead after two. In the third, Clark's lead grew to 6-2 with an escape and takedown. Gulibon notched an escape and a takedown to make it 6-5, but with riding time, Clark moved into the national semifinals with a 7-5 victory.

The Nittany Lion sophomore has wrestled very well in St. Louis, but came up just shy of finishing a takedown shot when the match was 4-2 in the third. Clark countered for a takedown and a 6-2 lead. The margin for error is incredibly thin when it comes to the national tournament. Nonetheless, Gulibon is very much alive in the race for third.

Joining Gulibon in the consolation semifinals will be McIntosh (197) and Lawson (285). Both McIntosh and Lawson notched two victories on Friday evening to remain alive in the race for third spot at their respective weight classes.

For Lawson, his journey to the starting lineup was by no means easy as a Nittany Lion wrestler, but the New Jersey native is now an All-American and will have the opportunity to wear the Penn State singlet one more time on Saturday.

"It hasn't been easy, but it means a lot to me (to be an All-American)," Lawson said. "Obviously, I wanted to have the chance to wrestle for a title, but being a senior and having the chance to wrestle for third is something I'm really looking forward to."

Session five begins at 11 a.m. ET on ESPNU and The fifth session is the medal round, with consolation action leading up to the third, fifth and seventh place matches.

Breaking Down the Nittany Lions

125: #11 Jordan Conaway (27-8) - 4-2 - Seventh Place Match (All-American)
Up Next: Seventh Place Match vs. No. 7 Eddie Klimara (Oklahoma State)

133: #7 Jimmy Gulibon (25-8) - 3-1 - Consolation Semifinals (All-American)
Up Next: Consolation Semifinal Round vs. No. 9 A.J. Schopp (Edinboro)

149: #12 Zack Beitz (19-11) - 1-2 - Tournament Complete

174: #2 Matt Brown (28-3) - 4-0 - National Final (All-American)
Up Next: Championship Round vs. No. 8 Tyler Wilps (Pitt)

184: #14 Matt McCutcheon (26-14) - 2-2 - Tournament Complete

197: #2 Morgan McIntosh (29-3) - 4-1 - Consolation Semifinals (All-American)
Up Next: Consolation Semifinal Round vs. No. 1 J'Den Cox (Missouri)

285: #8 Jimmy Lawson (18-4) - 3-1 - Consolation Semifinals (All-American)

Up Next: Consolation Semifinal vs. No. 2 Michael McMullan (Northwestern)

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

2015 NCAA Championships Session III Roundup

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

Session I Roundup - Video & Feature | Session II Roundup - Video & Feature

ST. LOUIS - Senior Matt Brown (174) and sophomore Jimmy Gulibon (133) will represent the Nittany Lion wrestling team in the NCAA semifinals on Friday evening inside the Scottrade Center.

Brown and Gulibon earned victories in the quarterfinal round of the national tournament en route to All-American status during the third session of the NCAA Championships. The two wins earned Penn State's 190th and 191st All-America accolades. Head coach Cael Sanderson has now had 28 All-America honors during his six-year tenure as head coach.

The Lions went 2-3 in quarterfinal action on Friday. Matt McCutcheon (184), Morgan McIntosh (197) and Jimmy Lawson (285) will each wrestle in the consolation round of 12 on Friday evening after coming up short in the quarterfinals. Jordan Conaway (125) put together a strong session with two victories in consolation action to punch a ticket into the consolation round of 12, as well.

In all, Penn State will have six wrestlers in action on Friday evening, with two in the semifinals and four in the consolation bracket. Thanks the pair of semifinal berths, Penn State finished the third session with 33.5 total points in the team race. The Nittany Lions are eighth in the standings.

Session III Team Standings (Main Draw/Consolation)
1. Ohio State - 64.5 (5 Main Draw/0 Consolation)
2. Iowa - 47.5 (3 Main Draw/4 Consolation)
3. Missouri - 45.0 (3 Main Draw/ 4 Consolation)
4. Cornell - 41.5 (3 Main Draw/1 Consolation)
5. Edinboro - 40.5 (3 Main Draw/2 Consolation)
6. Nebraska - 36.5 (1 Main Draw/5 Consolation)
7. Oklahoma State - 36.0 (2 Main Draw/4 Consolation)
8. Penn State - 33.5 (2 Main Draw/4 Consolation)    

10912090.jpeg Gulibon kick-started Penn State's morning with a strong effort against Wisconsin's Ryan Taylor. The Nittany Lion sophomore wrestled the second-seeded Taylor at the Big Ten Championships two weeks ago. Taylor used a takedown in sudden victory to beat Gulibon, 7-5.

With that match on his mind, Gulibon knew he needed a quick start in Friday's quarterfinal match. The Latrobe native scored the first takedown of the match and notched two near-fall points for a 4-0 lead after one period. Taylor quickly answered with a pair of takedowns, but Gulibon prepared all week for how he was going to handle adversity. He answered the bell with a strong finish en route to a 9-4 victory and a spot in the NCAA semifinals against third-seeded Cory Clark (Iowa).

"I feel like I have been wrestling pretty well," Gulibon said. "I think the whole team is keeping the momentum going. Watching the other guys go out there and win, it obviously gives me a boost to go out there and wrestle hard. I've just tried to go out there and attack."

Brown became the second Nittany Lion to earn a spot in the semifinals with a hard-fought 2-1 victory against eighth-seeded Zach Epperly (Virginia Tech). Brown took a 1-0 lead with an escape to open the second. He built 1:45 of riding time in the third before Epperly squared the match at 1-1 with an escape. Brown held off Epperly's late takedown attempt in the final seconds to earn a 2-1 with riding time for his second trip to the national semifinals in three years.

The Lion veteran has had a smile on his face throughout the week in St. Louis. Knowing this is his last opportunity to wear a Penn State singlet, Brown is wrestling loose and with confidence at the national tournament. And through three matches, he has been strong on the mat. Brown is yet to give up a takedown this week (one reversal).

All eyes will be on his matchup against Iowa veteran and third-seeded Mike Evans in the semifinals. Brown and Evans are no strangers to one another. The Nittany Lion senior has beaten Evans twice this year by the score of 2-0 (no takedowns from either wrestler in either match). Evans scored a 5-4 tiebreaker victory over Brown in the NCAA quarterfinals last season.

The run through the main draw drew to a close for McCutcheon, McIntosh and Lawson on Friday. McCutcheon fell in sudden victory (7-5) against Ohio State's Kenny Courts. By the narrowest of margins, McIntosh fell just shy of being awarded a takedown in the final seconds of a 3-2 decision against Duke's Conner Hartmann. Lawson dropped an 11-3 major decision to top-seeded and defending national champion Nick Gwiazdowski (North Carolina State).

Session four begins at 8 p.m. ET on ESPNU and The tournament semifinals will take place on the inner two mats of a six-mat setup. Two additional rounds of consolation action will also take place on the outer four mats.

Breaking Down the Nittany Lions

125: #11 Jordan Conaway (26-7) - 3-1 - Consolation Round of 12
Up Next: Consolation Round of 12 vs. David Tarao (American)

133: #7 Jimmy Gulibon (25-7) - 3-0 - Tournament Semifinals (All-American)
Up Next: Semifinal Round vs. No. 3 Cory Clark (Iowa)

149: #12 Zack Beitz (19-11) - 1-2 - Tournament Complete

174: #2 Matt Brown (27-3) - 3-0 - Tournament Semifinals (All-American)
Up Next: Semifinal Round vs. No. 3 Mike Evans (Iowa)

184: #14 Matt McCutcheon (26-13) - 2-1 - Consolation Round of 12
Up Next: Consolation Round of 12 vs. No. 16 Tim Dudley (Nebraska)

197: #2 Morgan McIntosh (27-3) - 2-1 - Consolation Round of 12
Up Next: Consolation Round of 12 vs. No. 13 Shane Woods

285: #8 Jimmy Lawson (17-4) - 2-1 - Consolation Round of 12

Up Next: Consolation Round of 12 vs. No. 11 Devin Mellon

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

2015 NCAA Championships Session II Roundup

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

Session I Roundup - Video & Feature

ST. LOUIS - Had it not been for two narrow sudden victory setbacks on Thursday evening, the Nittany Lions would have been perfect on day one of the NCAA Wrestling Championships inside Scottrade Center.

The four-time defending national champions tallied a stellar 12-2 mark on the first day of competition, including a 5-2 record during the second round of the championship draw. Jimmy Gulibon (133), Matt Brown (174), Matt McCutcheon (184), Morgan McIntosh (197) and Jimmy Lawson (285) will represent Penn State in the national quarterfinals on Friday morning after winning twice on Thursday.

Additionally, Jordan Conaway (125) and Zack Beitz (149) will wrestle in the second round of the consolation bracket on Friday. All seven Nittany Lion wrestlers have contributed to Penn State's 18.5 points following the first day in St. Louis.

Thanks to another 2.0 bonus points on Thursday evening (6.5 for the day), the Nittany Lions will head into Friday in a  tie for third in the team race. Penn State and Oklahoma State each have 18.5 points after two sessions. Ohio State is first with 23 points.

Session II Team Standings (Main Draw/Consolation)
1. Ohio State - 23.0 (5 Main Draw/3 Consolation)
Iowa - 21.0 (5 Main Draw/3 Consolation)
Oklahoma State - 19.5 (5 Main Draw/3 Consolation)
4. Penn State - 18.5 (5 Main Draw/2 Consolation)
5. Missouri - 18.0 (3 Main Draw/6 Consolation)
Nebraska - 18.0 (3 Main Draw/6 Consolation)

10909562.jpegThe story of day one in St. Louis can be told at 184 pounds for the Nittany Lions. McCutcheon, a redshirt freshman, making his first appearance at the national tournament looked like anything but a rookie on Thursday. After scoring a dominant technical fall victory in round one, McCutcheon used a takedown in the first sudden victory period to dispatch No. 3-seeded Blake Stauffer from Arizona State by a count of 3-1.

"I was just wrestling my match, pulling the guy around and getting to my leg attacks," McCutcheon said. "I knew I needed to finish better. I was in on him two times, and I knew I needed to finish better and get into the quarters."

McCutcheon will wrestle in the quarterfinals against Ohio State's Kenny Courts on Friday morning.

"It's been exciting, but I need to put this one in the past and get ready for the next one," McCutcheon said.

McCutcheon's teammates are feeding off of the freshman's gritty attitude. Brown and McIntosh had big grins on their faces when they embraced McCutcheon after the victory. McIntosh marched into the quarterfinals with a 14-5 major decision against Nebraska's Aaron Studebaker, but after his bout he took a moment to reflect on the job McCutcheon has done.

"Bonus points are always important, and you always have to work hard to get them," McIntosh said. "I was pumped up to go out there and wrestle after Matt (McCutcheon) got his big win. It was awesome to see him out there."

Brown outscored his opponents by a count of 22-6 on Thursday. In the evening session, the Nittany Lion senior jumped out to a 5-0 lead against Lehigh's Santiago Martinez. And thanks to nearly three minutes of riding time, Brown notched a workmanlike 10-2 major. Knowing it is his last opportunity to wrestle at the national tournament, Brown is having fun in St. Louis.

"He seems pretty loose," head coach Cael Sanderson said. "He is wrestling calm, and he has been ready to go. I think that is important for him. It's important to go out there and score points. The matches are going to get bigger, and the guy who wants to go out there and score points is the one who is going to win."

In addition to Brown, McCutcheon and McIntosh, Gulibon and Lawson round out Penn State's quarterfinalists. Gulibon rallied from 4-3 down to score an 8-4 decision thanks to a late four-point move against Utah Valley's Jade Rauser. Lawson used two third-period takedowns to top Minnesota's Michael Kroells by a score of 5-2.

"(Lawson's) moving well, and I think this is the best we have seen him look," Sanderson said. "He's got a big match tomorrow against the returning national champion."

Session three begins at 11 a.m. ET on ESPNU and The tournament quarterfinals will be up first before two rounds of consolation action.

Breaking Down the Nittany Lions

125: #11 Jordan Conaway (24-7) - 1-1 - Consolation Second Round
Up Next: Consolation Second Round vs. Scott Parker (Lehigh)

133: #7 Jimmy Gulibon (24-7) - 2-0 - Tournament Quarterfinals
Up Next: Quarterfinal Round vs. No. 2 Bradley Taylor (Wisconsin)

149: #12 Zack Beitz (19-10) - 1-1 - Consolation Second Round
Up Next: Consolation Second Round vs. No. 6 Alex Pantaleo (Michigan)

174: #2 Matt Brown (26-3) - 2-0 - Tournament Quarterfinals
Up Next: Quarterfinal Round vs. No. 7 Zach Epperly (Virginia Tech)

184: #14 Matt McCutcheon (26-12) - 2-0 - Tournament Quarterfinals
Up Next: Quarterfinal Round vs. Kenny Courts (Ohio State)

197: #2 Morgan McIntosh (27-2) - 2-0 - Tournament Quarterfinals
Up Next: Quarterfinal Round vs. No. 10 Connor Hartmann (Duke)

285: #8 Jimmy Lawson (17-3) - 2-0 - Tournament Quarterfinals

Up Next: Quarterfinal Round vs. No. 1 Nick Gwiazdowski (North Carolina State)

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

2015 NCAA Championships Session I Roundup

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

ST. LOUIS - The four-time defending national champion Nittany Lion wrestling team notched a perfect first session at the 2015 NCAA Championships inside the Scottrade Center on Thursday.

Bonus points were the theme of Penn State's superb start to the national tournament. The Lions went 7-0 in first-round action, including four wins featuring bonus points (three major decisions and one technical fall). Jordan Conaway (125), Jimmy Gulibon (133), Zack Beitz (149), Matt Brown (174), Matt McCutcheon (184), Morgan McIntosh (197) and Jimmy Lawson (285) all punched their tickets into the second round of the bracket during the initial matches of the tournament.

Gulibon (11-3), Beitz (10-1) and Brown (12-4) each scored wins by virtue of major decision, while McCutcheon (20-5 at 7:00) turned in a dominant technical fall victory in his first ever match at the NCAA Championships.

Thanks to the unblemished record and 4.5 bonus points, the Nittany Lions will head into Thursday's evening session in second spot with 11.5 tallies. Ohio State is first with 13.5 points. Penn State is one of four teams with seven wrestlers still alive in the main draw (Ohio State, Missouri and Oklahoma State).

Session I Team Standings (Main Draw/Consolation)
1. Ohio State - 13.5 (7 Main Draw/3 Consolation)
2. Penn State - 11.5 (7 Main Draw/0 Consolation)
3. Cornell - 11.0 (6 Main Draw/3 Consolation)
4. Missouri - 11.0 (7 Main Draw/3 Consolation)

It was an impressive session for a pair of Nittany Lions who had never wrestled in the NCAA Championships prior to Thursday. Beitz and McCutcheon looked comfortable every second they were on the mat during their first bouts at the national tournament.

"It was awesome," Beitz said. "I'm just grateful to have the opportunity to go out there and wrestle at nationals for Penn State."

Beitz took a 2-0 lead after one against Shawn Greevy (Chattanooga), but he was dominant in the second. The Mifflintown native scored a reversal to open the frame before three near-fall points handed the sophomore a 7-0 lead. He never looked back from there on his way to a 10-1 major.

"The one thing Coach Cael always says is keep going, going and going," Beitz said. "That's what I want to keep trying to do, keep scoring points. And then ride them tough and wear them out."

On the heels of a stout weekend at the Big Ten Championships, McCutcheon got stronger as his match at 184 pounds against Nick Fiegener (Cal Poly). A pair of back points late in the opening frame set the score at 7-3 when the first drew to a close. The Nittany Lion redshirt freshman added two takedowns in the second, including one right at the buzzer. McCutcheon marched to a seven-point third period and notched a 20-5 technical fall.

"It feels good to get the first match out of the way," McCutcheon said. "I'm ready to go. The coaches have me peaking at the right time, and I've just got to keep it going."

With seven wrestlers in the lineup, the Nittany Lions knew how critical extra points would be at the national tournament this year. Thus far, Penn State wrestled with tremendous confidence, and it turned into four wins with extra tallies. The Lions scored at least 10 points in five of the seven victories.

"Bonus points are huge here, and that is what is going through your mind when you are out there," Beitz said. We just go out there with the mindset to score, and then keep scoring."

The undefeated session sets up a host of critical second round matches on Thursday night.

"Our team realizes we are in this," McCutcheon said. "A lot of people are counting us out. Our team has the mindset that we are here to win, so we are going to go out there and score as many points as possible."

Session two begins at 7 p.m. ET on ESPNU and One round of consolation action will take place before the Nittany Lions take the mat in the second round. Jordan Conaway will be up first at 125 pounds.

Breaking Down the Nittany Lions

125: #11 Jordan Conaway (24-6) - 1-0 - Tournament Second Round
Up Next: Second Round vs. No. 6 Thomas Gilman (Iowa)

133: #7 Jimmy Gulibon (23-7) - 1-0 - Tournament Second Round
Up Next: Second Round vs. Jade Rauser (Utah Valley)

149: #12 Zack Beitz (19-9) - 1-0 - Tournament Second Round
Up Next: Second Round vs. No. 5 Chris Villalonga (Cornell)

174: #2 Matt Brown (25-3) - 1-0 - Tournament Second Round
Up Next: Second Round vs. No. 15 Santiago Martinez (Lehigh)

184: #14 Matt McCutcheon (25-12) - 1-0 - Tournament Second Round
Up Next: Second Round vs. No. 3 Blake Stauffer (Arizona State)

197: #2 Morgan McIntosh (26-2) - 1-0 - Tournament Second Round
Up Next: Second Round vs. No. 15 Aaron Studebaker (Nebraska)

285: #8 Jimmy Lawson (16-3) - 1-0 - Tournament Second Round

Up Next: Second Round vs. No. 9 Michael Kroells (Minnesota)

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

NCAA Championship Preview: Seven Lions Looking to Make Their Mark

| No Comments | No TrackBacks

10903699.jpegVIDEO: NCAA Championships Preview Interviews

By Matt Allibone, Student Staff Writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.- Cael Sanderson can't help but be a believer.

The head coach of the Penn State wrestling team knows his team is in much different position heading into the 2015 NCAA Championships than its been in the past few seasons. After a fifth place finish in the Big Ten Tournament, the four-time defending champion Nittany Lions will be heading into the biggest weekend of the year not as the favorite, but as one of the underdogs.

And that's perfectly fine for Sanderson and his squad. While expectations may not be the same for the Nittany Lions across the country, the Nittany Lions desire to win has not been diminished in the slightest.

"I don't think my perspective has necessarily changed," Sanderson said. "It's just a matter of getting the kids to believe. I can see us winning, it's just a matter of doing it, and not getting frustrated when things are not going our way because you've got to make things go your way.

"I'm optimistic. I believe in the guys that we have going that they can get the job done. Would it be a small miracle? Maybe, but I do believe in miracles."

Having qualified seven out of 10 wrestlers for the tournament, the Lions will certainly have plenty of work to do when the tournament kicks off on Thursday in St. Louis. Still, with all seven wrestlers seeded in the top 16, Penn State will definitely have the chance to make some noise.

At the very least, each of Penn State's wrestlers will have a fighting chance to reach the top-eight and earn All-American status. That being said, the Nittany Lions do take pride in the team score and will take the mat looking to rack up bonus point to make up for their lack of competitors.

"I'm excited. I don't want to talk big but I think our guys have a chance to score a lot of points," Sanderson said. "Is it going to be easy no, but can they do it, yeah."

It certainly won't be easy, but then again, the Lions aren't looking for anything to be handed to them. With the tournament kicking off in two days, here's a look at every Penn State qualifier.

125 Pounds: Junior Jordan Conaway (23-6, 11th Seed, Third at B1G Tournament)
Two years ago, Jordan Conaway made a splash in his first NCAA Championships appearance, coming up one win shy of becoming an All-American at 133 pounds.

Now competing at 125 after missing out on a starting spot last year, the Abbottstown, Pennsylvania, native is determined to take that next step. Having claimed third place in a brutally tough field at the Big Ten Tournament, Conaway seems to be peaking at the right time.

"I'm just focused on this year, I've been to this tournament before so I'm looking to do better obviously," Conaway said. "We've wrestled our best as this tournament the past few years, I don't see why this would be any different, and the same for me."

Sanderson has touted the redshirt junior as someone he is expecting to breakout over the weekend. With a 10-6 record this year against the NCAA field (including two wins and a medical forfeit in the B1G Tournament) Conaway has proven he can beat top opponents.

It's something that he'll have to prove early on as well. If the 125-pounder gets past the first round, he'll likely get a second round match against Iowa's Thomas Gilman, a grappler he's lost to by one point twice this season.

Conway, who admitted he hasn't looked at the bracket, isn't shying away from another rematch. One of the grittiest guys on the team, he knows he has to beat the best to be the best.

"I honestly don't look at the bracket, I just go out and wrestle," Conaway said. "We've had some close matches and I just have to keep battling and this will be the time to win it."

133: Sophomore Jimmy Gulibon (22-7, Seventh Seed, Sixth at B1G Tournament)
Perhaps no Penn State wrestler has improved more dramatically from last season to this season than Jimmy Gulibon.

A year after the highly touted recruit finished an up-and-down freshman year by going 1-2 in his first NCAA Tournament appearance, the 133-pounder has looked like a legit contender for much of this season, finishing the dual meet season schedule with a 13-2 record. 

While he finished sixth at the conference tournament despite winning his first two meets, Gulibon is still 12-7 this year against the 133-field and 9-6 against ranked opponents. He enters the tournament with an excellent chance to claim his first All-American nod.

One potential match to look forward to is Gulibon's second round bout, which will be against Lehigh's Mason Beckman if both wrestlers advance. In the two team's season opening match, Gulibon beat Beckman, who was ranked second at the time, 8-3.

"I can't be complacent and stay back and try to hold a lead. I have to keep wrestling," Gulibon said. "I was a little upset with my performance last year. This year, I'd like to get out there and keep attacking."

149: Sophomore Zack Beitz (18-9,12th Seed, Fifth at B1G Tournament)
One of two Nittany Lions making their NCAA Tournament debuts this weekend, Beitz may be the least heralded wrestler Penn State is sending. That being said, the redshirt sophomore is another guy that appears to be hitting his stride the last month.

A scrapper that has always had a knack for giving top opponents all they can handle, Beitz has recently shown the ability to finish off ranked guys. An impressive pin over fourth ranked Josh Kindig of Oklahoma State as well as a fifth place finish at the conference tournament has raised his profile.

Now, the Mifflintown, Pennsylvania, native is looking to show he belongs at the national level. While he originally saw time in Penn State's lineup last year as an injury replacement for Andrew Alton, Beitz has proved he can be a starter, and an impressive performance this weekend would enhance his reputation even more.

To do it, the 12th-seeded Beitz will have to make sure he doesn't look his past his first round opponent, Shawn Greevy of Chattanooga. A win there could set up a matchup with Cornell's Chris Villalonga, the fifth seed and one of the top contenders in the weight class.

"Being at the national tournament is something you train for and look forward to all year long," Beitz said. "This is why we wrestle. This is the tournament that means so much to all of us. The biggest thing is to go out there with great focus and know what your goals are."

174: Senior Matt Brown (24-3, Second Seed, Second at B1G Tournament)
It's hard to imagine any competitor being more determined than Matt Brown is right now.

The Penn State captain has accomplished nearly everything a wrestler can in his four-year career. He's got over 100 career victories, won an individual conference title, been to the national finals and claimed All-American honors twice.

All that remains now is that elusive national championship. Brown enters his final NCAA Championships as the No. 2 seed at his weight, yet he knows a trip to the finals won't come easy.

As usual, the 174-bracket is brutally tough, with nobody in the top nine having lost more than six times this season. Having finished fifth last year after coming up just one win short of a title in 2013, Brown knows better than anyone that the field is wide open.

"It's another competitive bracket, I think they'll be a lot of good matchups,' Brown said. "I think I'm just going into this weekend knowing the NCAA tournament is a lot of fun. I know it's exciting but it's nothing that I should be intimidated of or afraid of."

Brown begins the weekend with a 10-3 season record against tournament qualifiers, with two of those loses coming against the top seed, undefeated Robert Kokesh of Nebraska.

Having lost to him in the finals of the Big Ten tournament, Brown would love a third shot at the Cornhusker. At the same time, he has a long road to get there and the Nittany Lion All-American wants to savor every moment on the mat he has left.

"I think I'll reflect when it's over, knowing my days in a Penn State singlet are numbered," Brown said. "I'm excited though, it's fun. It's what we train for. It's not what I want to do for the rest of my life, but it's what I want to do now."

184: Freshman Matt McCutcheon (23-12, 14th Seed, Fourth at B1G Tournament)
Penn State's lone freshmen qualifier, Matt McCutcheon is hoping the momentum he picked up at the Big Ten Championships carries over into this weekend.

While he went just 7-8 during the dual meet season, the redshirt freshman really began to flash his potential in the conference tournament, going 3-1 with his last two victories coming against top-15 opponents, including a 9-1 major of Nebraska's T.J. Dudley in the fourth place bout.

As impressive as McCutcheon's performance there was, now is when the challenge really begins. Not unlike many of his teammates, the 184-pounder has a tough second round opponent, with Arizona State's third seeded Blake Stauffer (31-1) most likely waiting for him if he can get past his first match.

Still, McCutcheon has the confidence of Sanderson, who believes his first-year wrestler has the confidence and skill to perform on the sport's grandest stage.

"I thought the best he's looked was at the Big Ten [Championships]," Sanderson said. "His best shots, his strongest finishes, more than anything just the best look he's had in his eye. I think he's going to wrestle with some fire."

197 Pounds: Junior Morgan McIntosh (26-2, Second Seed, First at B1G Tournament)

In college wrestling, it's generally thought that if you can win in the Big Ten, you can probably win against anyone. If so, Morgan McIntosh could very well be in line to claim his first individual national title this weekend.

A year after he earned his first All-American nod, McIntosh entered the current season with huge expectations and plenty of responsibility on his shoulders. Having just blazed his way to his first conference title, the junior is clearly living up to his reputation as Penn State's next leader and star.

Currently riding an 11-match winning streak that includes victories over five top-10 opponents, McIntosh has never looked better than he has since the start of the new year. Nonetheless, he has refused to get complacent.

As one of the team's captains, McIntosh knows he needs to not only win, but also get bonus points if Penn State is going to make any noise in the team race. Even after winning the Big Ten, he still hasn't been satisfied with his performance.

"It's not like a huge giant breakthrough for me, I've always known that I'm capable of [winning the conference tournament]," McIntosh said. "It was nice to get there and win that, but there's other things to worry about. There's always opportunites to score more and other things I could of done but I can still work on it."

While a lot can certainly happen in the tournament and nothing is set in stone, a trip to the finals for McIntosh could likely mean a matchup with top-ranked J'Den Cox of Missouri, last year's 197-pound national champion and a guy who hasn't lost all season.

When the two wrestlers faced off at the Southern Scuffle at the beginning of January, Cox won a low-scoring 2-1 match. Though he knows he can compete with the Tiger wrestler, McIntosh is more focused on winning each of his bouts by a large margin to bolster the team score than he is on preparing himself for a rematch.

"When you think about the team and all the guys around you, you do wrestle harder," McIntosh said. "I definitely feel like that. I don't want to win just for me. I want to win for the team. I've got great guys around me, they've all been working hard and I just want to go out there and score points."

285: Senior Jimmy Lawson (15-3, Eighth Seed, Sixth at B1G Tournament)
By now, facing adversity is as common to Jimmy Lawson as putting on a singlet or trying to score a takedown.

Since transferring to Penn State in 2013, the Toms River, New Jersey, native has had so many setbacks it's been hard to keep track.

First, there was the personally disappointing 1-2 showing at his first NCAA Tournament. Then came the devastating knee injury that ended his 2014 season, followed by various ailments this year that prevented him from sustaining momentum. That's not to mention his three-year battle with Jon Gingrich for the starting heavyweight spot, something that would have been too much pressure for many to handle.

None of that matters anymore. With his final college tournament days away, Lawson is finally the Lions undisputed guy at 285 and has one more chance to become an All-American.

"I embraced the competition," Lawson said. "Jon's one of the best heavyweights in the nation and when you practice against someone like that you get better. I think coming to Penn State was the best opportunity to get better fast. It forced me to work harder every day. I've been more aggressive this year and I feel confident I can win a national title."

While Lawson is on the other side of the bracket than the two wrestlers who beat him this year, Iowa's Bobby Telford and Michigan's Adam Coon, he still will have plenty of difficult opponents to face. If Lawson wins his first two matches, he could easily face No. 1 Nick Gwiazdowski of North Carolina State with a birth in the semifinals on the line.

But that's all way ahead in the future and out of his control. For a guy who's gone through so much, Lawson is looking at this weekend as a chance to simply have some fun.

"You don't really feel pressure at this stage of the game," Lawson said. "If don't wrestle confident you're going to fail because everyone's going 100 percent. I'm not really feeling pressure I'm just excited. It's a great opportunity. I haven't been here in two years so I'm excited."